This guest post is by Pete Boyle, the founder of Have-a-word and content manager / chief copywriter at Recart, an all in one ecommerce marketing solution that helps merchants recapture lost revenue and increase their profits. So far, Recart has helped their merchants recapture almost $100,000,000 in lost revenue.

I remember seeing this video of a kid trying to bail water with a bucket full of holes.

His tactic, whilst admirable, was completely ineffectual.  

He decided the best method of removing the water was to combine both speed and the amount of water he could force into his holey vessel.

The result, obviously, was hilarious.

And yet, whilst we’re all sitting there laughing at this kid’s poor attempts at moving water from point A to point B, there’s a large number of us doing the same.

I cannot tell you the amount of ecommerce professionals I’ve come across who never attempt to fix the leaks in their sales funnels.

They leave the holes as they are and think that throwing more traffic through SEO, PPC, or social media influencers is going to be the most effective method of increasing revenue.

And sure, that can help keep you afloat, but you’re never going to survive stormy weather if that’s your number one tactic.

The most successful stores out there understand their focus shouldn’t be on growing traffic until they’ve fixed the holes in their sales processes.

And as far as holes in your sales funnel go, one is far larger than the rest.

Cart abandonment.

What is cart abondonment? 

Cart abandonment occurs when a potential customer adds a product to their cart, but then leaves your store before completing their purchase.

It occurs in ~75% of all instances when a user adds an item to their cart. So, four out of every five items added to your cart are never purchased, meaning you’re losing around $75 for every $25 made.

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Those are some pretty scary numbers, right?

These losses cost the industry trillions of dollars in lost revenue every single year. And yet, most store’s attempts to fix it are pretty ineffective.

They rely on directing more traffic to the top of the funnel.

But spending time, money, and effort on increasing traffic is a high cost, low reward tactic to employ. At least it is when compared to plugging the hole of cart abandonment.

At Recart, we’ve seen just how much can be made through focusing on cart abandonment. Through focusing solely on plugging the holes at the bottom of the funnel and directing our merchants’ attention to the most interested users in their funnel, we’ve helped secure nearly $100,000,000 in revenue that would otherwise have been lost.

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If you want to see your store make more, you have to reduce the rate of cart abandonment. But don’t think this is as simple as activating a simple service to send a few emails. Effective cart abandonment campaigns focus on two key areas.

How to prevent cart abandonment

There are numerous reasons for cart abandonment but you can generally bucket them into one of three areas:

  1. Unexpected costs/actions
  2. Trust (or a lack thereof)
  3. User experience

To prevent abandonment, you’ve got to combat these three areas with preemptive notifications and improved user experience.

Let’s break it down and look at specific fixes for the top problems. According to Barilliance, these are the top reasons for cart abandonment.

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Extra costs

This is an easy fix.

Don’t wait until the final step of checking out to let your users know there’s a $xx delivery fee, extra tax, or some other form of fee.

The best stores out there show you throughout your browsing and shopping experience how much the entirety of your basket will cost.

Here’s an example from Ted Baker. If you hold your mouse over the bag icon in the top right on any page it’ll tell you exactly how much your cart contents costs inclusive of all fees which makes it easier to justify adding another shirt to the cart. screen-shot-2018-07-25-at-17-52-49

Another method you could use to combat this is to sweeten the deal somewhat.

If you can’t afford to offer free shipping, then consider implementing some form of loyalty program that gives a discount you can stomach on an immediate second purchase.

Buy one get one free offers are ideal for this as you don’t have to foot the bill for delivery, yet should still see an increase in overall AOV.

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Create an account/too long checkout process

The modern consumer is fickle and impatient.

They want what they want and they want it now. However, so many brands are asking for either too much information or are so intent on getting a first time customer on their email list that they end up losing the sale.

When optimising your checkout don’t add in unnecessarily complicated opt-in steps. If you can get users to sign up to further communication without making the checkout process super complicated then great, but if adding in an extra three steps is going to lose you sales you’ve got to get rid of the complex process.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to offer a guest checkout. It’s a simple way to ensure the user gets a quick checkout and doesn’t have to go through the rigmarole of creating a new account.

Here’s how Asos handle this.

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You can see in the above that the user can either sign up by linking their Facebook, Google, or Twitter, or they can forgo this and simply continue to complete the purchase.

I picked Asos because both options are as friction free as possible. As they say themselves, there are no extra passwords or anything that makes the process more complicated than it has to be.

You need to get to this level of simplicity.

Trust

Trust is a huge issue in the world of online retail.

You’re asking someone you’ve never met to take a chance on you and hand over their most personal and valuable information.

Thanks to horror stories of people losing their life savings or having their identities stolen your customers are, understandably, a little cautious with who they give their card details to.

You’ve got to do whatever it takes to instil the trust needed for your customers to take that final step of purchasing from you.

The majority of advice on how to achieve this revolves around simple displays of third party guarantee badges like “secured by Paypal” or something similar.

Whilst this is good, people will generally look to others for an idea on whether a company can be trusted. You should be using trust seals in your product and checkout pages, but also add that human element.

Be sure you’re also using real customer reviews on page to help highlight that this is a great product and the process of purchasing from you was effortless and enjoyable.

However, if you want to go one step further you should be attempting to attract people who have a high level of trust the first time they land on your site.

The easiest way to do this is to help your current customers advertise your brand by incentivising referrals.

If a friend told you about a great store which had the best products and service, you’d immediately want to go and check them out. You wouldn’t need to verify anything in terms of reviews and reports because someone you trust in real life has already vouched for the brand.

If you can get your current customers to advertise your brand, you’re going to see a much higher conversion rate.

Loyalty Lion specialises in building these sorts of relationships and has seen referral programs generate up to $244,000 in referral revenue!

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The above are a couple of methods to lower the likelihood of people abandoning your store. However, you’re never going to be able to prevent 100% of your abandoners from leaving.

If you want to recover as many abandoners and revenue as possible, you have to have a plan B in place. You have to recapture those that fall through the gaps.

The cure for cart abandonment

A retrieval campaign is par for the course in modern ecommerce.

Email has long been the go-to for this. We’ve all relied on email campaigns that are triggered as soon as the user abandons their cart. But as more and more brands are turning to email, we’re seeing the efficiency of the channel wane.

Which is why so many brands are now turning to Messenger. Messenger is providing brands with another direct line to their ideal customers, however, the engagement rates are far superior to that of email.

In testing email vs Messenger for cart abandonment at Recart, we found that Messenger not only has higher engagement rates, but also drives more revenue.

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However, don’t think success is a simple case of moving all your abandonment actions over to Messenger. Before you even think about your cart retrieval messages we have to take a step back.

Your cart abandonment strategy begins, much like your prevention strategy, on site.

For you to have any hope of getting your emails or messages opened, you first have to collect user details and permissions to follow up with them.

Rather than take the generic option of a simple exit-intent popup, I’ve listed a couple of more effective methods for you below. These methods are far more successful at capturing user details and permissions so you’re able to actually send your abandonment messages.

Add to cart popup

A user’s interest in your product is highest when they add it to their cart. This is the point when they’re literally thinking “I might buy this”. And yet, so many brands don’t capitalise on that intent.

Brands depend on the exit-intent popup which is triggered when a user’s purchase intent has dropped to its lowest point. They wait until the user is about to leave the store.

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By switching to an add-to-cart popup we managed to secure 62% of abandoners’ details giving us even more opportunities to recapture that revenue.

Incentivise opting in

This is hardly groundbreaking, but if you want people to take an action, sweeten the deal for them.

There’s two ways to do this.

The first is to simply offer some form of financial reward for option in. For example, a 10% coupon for your first purchase to be delivered via email or Messenger.

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An example from Recart’s Messenger Marketing tools.

The second method is to make signing up fun.

No one wants to hand over their email for no reason, but they will if there’s some form of gamification there. Wheelio offer a great example of how to incentivise sign ups with both a monetary reward and gamified experience.

With Wheelio, you can add a Wheel of Fortune-esque element to your store where the user has a chance of winning some form of reward.

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These are just two examples, but you need something to incentivise the user to take action and join your preferred method of direct outreach.

Make it easy and noticeable

This final piece of advice is pretty simple.

If you want people to sign up to hear from you, you have to make the opt-in noticeable and the process easy. As mentioned earlier on, people don’t want to jump through numerous hoops to perform a simple action.

You’ve got to reduce the friction involved in signing up to collect as many user details as possible and ensure you’ve the best chance of recapturing lost revenue.

Some of the best tips for this include:

  • Prominent positioning of your opt-in (or a popup when intent is highest)
  • Make it as simple as possible. Either make use of auto-fill for email details or add a checkbox if possible.
  • Make your opt-in stand out, either through the smart use of colour or by highlighting it in some other way

When you’re collecting the right details of your users, you’re going to need to follow up with some killer messages. So how exactly can you do that?

Top tips for cart abandonment messages

You could go the generic route and simply send the same default text every other brand does with your cart abandonment messages. But you can do better than that. Below are a couple of tips to increase the effectiveness of your cart abandonment campaigns.

1 – Timing and incentives

The accepted advice for cart abandonment messages is to spread them out over a 48 hour period.

Usually you’ll send the first message an hour after they abandon, the seond at 12 hours, third at 24 and a final reminder at 48.

It’s a good starting point, but be sure to experiment with this.

You have a unique audience and product. If you’re selling $10,000 electronics then you might need more messages spread out over a longer consideration phase. A $10 item doesn’t require as much consideration and so might be better to send multiple reminders within a shorter time frame.

Take the accepted methods and adapt them for your own experiments. Timing can play a key part in the success of your abandonment campaigns, you need to find what works for you.

2 – Collaboration

Messenger might get higher engagement, but it’s not a direct replacement for email.

There’s still certain things email is better at that Messenger. Long form content that’s intended to build relationships with your users isn’t the best sort of content for Messenger.  

In those cases, email is still going to remain the most effective channel.

Messenger is great at the transactional, automated content. It shouldn’t take over all your direct mail efforts, but should complement your email campaigns.

You have to use the two in conjunction. One is not superior to the other but they are a collaborative effort at increasing sales.

You should be looking at reinforcing the message you deliver by sending it through both channels in a staggered manner to keep your brand top of mind.

For a good example of this (which isn’t 100% ecommerce sales related) check out Ezra Firestone and Smart Marketers approach.

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You can see it’s the same message delivered through two different channels, but optimised for each. You should be aiming for the same.

3 – Convincing copy

Whether you’re delivering your message through video, text, images, or even verbally one consideration stands above all others in terms of success.

The message.

An effective message works to build desire, allay fears, and persuade the user to take the next step in the purchase journey.

However, it’s a complex goal which requires an article all it’s own to really explore. What I’m going to offer here are some key points and links to other, more in-depth articles that should help round out your knowledge.

4 – Use reviews wisely

Too often ecommerce professional think of reviews as nothing more than something to put on product pages and landing pages.

However, smart brands use them across their sales material. Smart brands leverage user reviews in their direct response emails and messages.

Take a look at the below which I pulled from GearBunch’s site.

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It’s a general review and not tied to any specific product which would make it the ideal lead in to any cart abandonment messages.

Instead of simply saying “you left items in your cart”, you could spin this to say something like, “Peg B. loves her Gearbunch Leggings, don’t miss your chance to join Peg and thousands of other happy Gearbunch fans!

The user reviews you collect should be used for more than generic product page proof.

5- Understand the medium

Messenger is primarily used on phones for conversational messages between friends.

Having a huge paragraph of text simply isn’t going to work on mobile’s small screens. So yes, you have to cut the copy down, but you also have to consider the kind of message your delivering.

As mentioned, Messenger is primarily used between friends. That means a tonne of emojis, gifs, fun images, and a certain level of colloquial slang.

You should try to include these kind of elements within your own Messenger copy as well.

Just be careful to not overstep the line and lose your professionalism.

6- Frequency and originality are important

You want your brand to remain top of mind for your consumers. You want to message them at times when you think they’re most likely to open, read, and engage.

However, you also want to avoid spamming them.

If you’re messaging them every 5 minutes it won’t be long before they unsubscribe from all your lists and you lose any future opportunity to sell to them.

If you’re leveraging both email and Messenger you want to stagger your messaging so you’re in constant contact with your user without spamming one channel.

However, you also want to switch up the messaging so it’s not only more appropriate for the channel but also so there’s a difference between each message.

If you’re using the same copy and creative on all messages, you’re missing an opportunity. If they don’t respond to one message the first time they see it, there’s little chance they will the second or third time.

So make sure that each and every message is customised, unique, and delivered at the right time.

Check out this guide if you want a complete guide to writing cart abandon messages that convert.

Cart abandonment is a serious issue

Cart abandonment is one of the most costly issues in ecommerce and it’s something you need to focus on solving.

However, don’t focus your actions on vanity metrics that look great on paper but don’t improve your bottom line.

Your cart abandonment campaigns should all be aimed at having an immediate effect on the revenue your store is generating, any other goals means you’re simply wasting your time.